Alaska News Nightly: May 24, 2012

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Stevens Prosecutors Suspended Without Pay

Peter Granitz, APRN – Washington DC

Two prosecutors in the bungled corruption case of former Senator Ted Stevens have been ordered suspended without pay. The suspension comes as part of a new report on the trial. This is the harshest punishment to date.

The report runs nearly seven hundred pages and was sent to the House and Senate Judiciary Committees, and Judge Emmet Sullivan. Sullivan presided over the case in 2008.

It comes from the United States Department of Justice, the agency that prosecuted the late Senator and ultimately reversed the conviction because of the prosecutors’ misconduct.

Joseph Bottini, still an assistant U.S. attorney in Anchorage, will be suspended for forty days without pay. And James Goeke, now Assistant U.S. attorney in Washington State, will be suspended without pay for fifteen days.

The two withheld information in the Stevens corruption trial that would have discredited the government’s key witness, Bill Allen. The report says the prosecutors recklessly ignored contradictory statements from Allen … and refused to share information showing Stevens was willing to pay for the construction work done on his Girdwood home.

A report from a special prosecutor released in March said no charges should be filed against the two. That report said the misconduct was completely intentional. This one, from the DOJ notes the misconduct as unintentional. It does not name any other members of the prosecution team. It says none acted with professional misconduct, though it says, without naming, one prosecutor exercised poor judgment.

Some could see suspension without pay as a slap on the wrist. The two could have lost their jobs, either way, they can appeal.

Amendment Halts Proposed Eielson F-16 Move

Emily Schwing, KUAC – Fairbanks

During the final day of mark-ups to the fiscal year 2013 budget for the Department of Defense, the Senate Armed Services Committee approved an amendment sponsored by Senator Mark Begich.  The amendment places a one-year moratorium on any action that reduces the civilian workforce on military bases, which would put a halt to the proposed F-16 move from Eielson Air Force Base in Fairbanks to the joint base in Anchorage.

Murkowski’s ‘Frankenfish’ Amendment Fails

Jay Barrett, KMXT – Kodiak

A vote on the floor of the U.S. Senate today turned back an amendment by Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski to require a comprehensive study before genetically-engineered salmon can be sold to consumers.

Mountaineer Dies After 2,000 Foot Fall Down Denali

Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau

A Finnish man died from injuries he received Wednesday skiing down Mount McKinley in Denali National Park. Ilkka Uusitalo fell while on the area known as the Orient Express – a 40-45 degree slope just below the 18,000 foot level.  Maureen McLaughlin, Public Information Officer for the Talkeetna Ranger Station says his fall ended about 2,000 feet lower at the bottom of a 60 foot crevasse.

McLaughlin says Uusitalo was part of a team with a lot of experience in ski descents in Europe.

National Park Rangers arrived on the scene about an hour after the fall and transported his body to Talkeetna.  The accident is the second fatality on Denali this season.

Young: Transparency Makes Good Government ‘Impossible’

Robert Woolsey, KCAW – Sitka

Alaska’s lone congressman says transparency is the problem with – and not the solution to – good government. Don Young took advantage of the congressional recess to visit Sitka and speak at the Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday. Besides sharing his nostalgia for the days before television cameras intruded into the capitol, the 40-year representative railed against younger Alaskan’s comfort with government largesse, and their lack of productivity.

Governor Signs Bill Giving Easier Access To Juvenile Criminal Records

Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau

It will be easier to get court records of juvenile offenders under a bill Governor Sean Parnell signed Thursday.

Petersburg To Ask For Reconsideration Of Redistricting Decision

Matt Lichtenstein, KFSK – Petersburg

Petersburg will ask the Alaska Supreme Court to reconsider its decision on redistricting. The City Council made that decision after consulting with its attorney in a special meeting yesterday afternoon.

AuruMar Beginning Gold Mining Feasibility Study For Nome-Area Leases

Matthew Smith, KNOM – Nome

After spending $5 million on dozens of mining leases off the coast of Nome, AuruMar Alaska Inc. will begin a two-year feasibility study next month to decide if their leases warrant large-scale gold mining operations. The company revealed its plans for the study at a public meeting last night in Nome.

‘The Green Machine’ Could Help Lower Rural Energy Costs

Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks

A waste heat powered generator could save costly fuel in rural villages.  The University of Alaska Fairbanks Alaska Center for Energy and Power recently completed testing of a unit called “The Green Machine”. Center rural energy specialist Ross Coen says it converts heat into electricity.

Composting Key to Clean Water

Ellen Lockyer, KSKA – Anchorage

Large amounts of animal waste dumped into landfills and left to rot can cause environmental problems.  But composting animal waste, like horse manure, can help keep land and water clean.  As part of our occasional recycling series, KSKA’s Ellen Lockyer discovers one Palmer family that has come up with a unique exchange program that just makes good horse sense.